Freedom Folks

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

How the Cheap Labor Lobby Is Duping the Left Into Doing Its Work For Free

Alan Tonelson has a great piece up today dissecting the "labor shortage" argument.
As self-styled progressives mobilize to head off the Sensenbrenner border enforcement bill and turn the United States into even more of a magnet for illegal immigration, they might consider how their efforts are playing right into the hands of a powerful Cheap Labor Lobby aiming to speed up the race to the bottom for all Americans – including legal immigrants.

A great example of the Lobby’s single-minded devotion to fattening members’ profits by forcing inflation-adjusted wages ever lower came in a recent Washington Post article covering a new report on the rising tide of illegal immigration. According to National Restaurant Association spokesman John Gay, the employers he represents hire illegals only because they simply can’t find enough help any other way. Gay, who also co-chairs the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition – a leading Cheap Labor Lobby umbrella group – added that his industry will need “15 percent more people over the next few years” and that without a continuing immigration flood, he “doesn’t know where they will come from.”

The plight of these businesses does indeed sound desperate – until you ask what’s been happening to the wages they pay lately. The answer: They’ve stagnated at pathetically low levels or have actually fallen. Indeed, in the food services and drinking places category as a whole, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show, real hourly wages dropped by 1.65 percent between 2000 and 2005 (to $5.36 in 1990 dollars). In full-service restaurants, they rose by a grand total of 0.74 percent during this period (to $5.47 in 1990 dollars), but in “limited-service eating places,” real wages sank by 3.65 percent (to $5.01 in 1990 dollars)..

As anyone who believes in the law of supply and demand knows, falling wages in any part of the economy as a whole are proof positive that a labor shortage claim for that sector is pure fiction. If so many employers were chasing so few workers, they’d be bidding their wages way up.

Instead, what the wage figures make indisputably clear is that the ongoing illegal immigration inflow enables the food service industry – among others – to keep labor costs at sub-poverty levels. The Cheap Labor Lobby’s brazen demands for looser borders and guest-worker programs make just as clear its determination to turn lousy-paying jobs into even worse-paying jobs. And the progressive immigration advocates’ support for the Open Borders agenda makes clear that too many on the left are emoting rather than thinking.
Is he wrong?

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